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Film explores gay surf culture


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Film explores gay surf culture



Source: Melbourne's Herald-Sun

IN Australia's sometimes tough and aggressive surf culture, the issue of gay surfers is rarely mentioned.

That could be about to change, with a new coming of age film set on Australian beaches.

British filmmaker Ed Aldridge believes the surfing scene is a perfect backdrop for a film about a young man's first gay love affair, born in secret in a small town he fears would never accept it.

"There must be gay surfers, I just don't think they are out," said Aldridge, himself a surfer who has lived in Australia for three years.

"There is nothing about the act of surfing, paddling a board and riding a wave, that has anything to do with your sexuality.

"It is a culture that is quite aggressive and judgemental of other lifestyles."

Aldridge wrote and will direct Tan Lines, a low budget film which will be shot around Sydney's beaches in January.

It will tell the story of teenage surfer Midget Hollows, a young man who lives with his mother in a small coastal community.

When Midget's best friend's older brother comes to town, the two embark on a passionate affair.

But in a town where everyone knows everyone else's business, Midget struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.

"It is certainly not your Home and Away sun, sea, surf story," Aldridge, 27, said.

"It explores themes of sexuality which I am incredibly interested in. Each individual character has their own unique sexuality like we all do."

Aldridge said the film will feature an authentic representation of the teenage lifestyle and the "dizziness" of first love.

"We can all remember the first time you are attracted to someone and someone is attracted to you, that is quite a profound thing, especially for a gay guy who is unsure whether he is gay anyway," said Aldridge, who grew up around Brighton on England's south coast.

Aldridge is finalising casting of the film and says he is not necessarily looking for gay actors.

He will also cast non-actors in support roles to make the film more authentic.

"I don't want to cast someone who is happy to do the gay stuff but that you don't believe is a surfer," he said.

"That would just be really a pitiful film. There is a certain physicality about the way you carry a board, about the way you walk, that is difficult to fake."

Aldridge studied film production at London's University of Westminster and has worked on a number of film and television productions in Britain and the United States.

Tan Lines, his first feature film, has been financed through private investors.

Aldridge has secured overseas distribution and is currently in negotiations to distribute the film in Australia.

"Everyone in the film industry keeps telling me to tone the sex down," Aldridge said.

"And for a while I thought they may be right but I think part of it is an inherent homophobia in society that is happy to deal with gay characters as long as they're not actually having sex.

"It is not p*** but I want them to be overtly sexual."

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